Japanese Coffee Jelly is a simple dessert made with strongly brewed coffee and served with cream. It's easy to make and is a perfect refreshing treat in the summer, or all year round! Enjoy it on its own or even jazz up your iced coffee!
Japanese Coffee Jelly
What is coffee jelly?
Coffee Jelly or "kohi zeri" in Japanese (コーヒーゼリー) is a tasty, summery dessert made using strong black coffee that has been sweetened with sugar and then solidified with a setting agent such as gelatin, agar agar or kanten.
Jelly is extremely popular in Japan and comes in all kinds of unusual flavours including matcha, soda and a red bean jelly we call "yokan". You can even buy cans of fizzy drinkable jelly from vending machines! It's one of my favourite things to eat/drink in summer.
Gelatin vs. Agar agar
Jelly made with gelatin first appeared in the U.K hundreds of years ago, but Japanese jellies were traditionally made with a substance called "kanten" (寒天). I'll show you how to use both for this recipe, but first, let's learn a little bit about each one.
Gelatin is a product made from collagen taken from animal parts. It's translucent and has little colour or taste, perfect for setting desserts such as jelly, cheesecake and gummy candy.
Here are a few pros and cons to using gelatin.
- Low melting point
- Clear/ translucent
- Easy to purchase
- Takes a long time to set
- Not suitable for vegetarians or vegans
- Unstable at room temperature
When I make this recipe with gelatin, I use it in a powdered form. You can use sheets if you prefer, 1 sheet is equal to 1 tsp of powdered gelatin.
If you don't eat animal products, the next option is for you!
Agar agar vs Kanten
Agar agar and kanten are actually totally different products. While agar agar is made from a mixture of red seaweeds and was created to mimic the texture of gelatin, kanten is a lot firmer and made from one type of red seaweed called gelidiales.
In fact, because they're so different, it's pretty important you don't mix them up. For 15-20g of agar agar powder, you only need half a sachet (2g) of kanten! If you're unsure which one you have, comment below and I'll see if I can help you identify it.
Both agar agar and kanten set at room temperature and make a great vegetarian/vegan substitute for gelatin in desserts!
Here are some pros and cons to using agar agar or kanten.
- Vegetarian / Vegan friendly
- Sets quickly
- Holds its shape at room temperature
- More expensive
- Can be hard to find
- Needs to be boiled on the stove
When I use agar agar to make this jelly, I use 2 tbsp which is equivalent to 15-20g depending on the brand. Please check the packaging to see how much agar agar you should use. And be very careful not to mix up agar agar and kanten!
What coffee should I use in Coffee Jelly?
As coffee is the main ingredient in this recipe, it's important you use a coffee that you like. It's also quite important that it's brewed strongly, it won't be as strong as you expect when it's served as a dessert.
The most accessible, easy and affordable option is instant coffee. Choose your favourite brand and then add 2 tbsp to the water stated in the recipe. It's no fuss and I recommend instant coffee the most.
If you are able to make espresso at home, you will be able to make a rich and delicious jelly! You can make espresso either using a coffee machine, or a stove top moka pot.
I recommend using 2 double shot espressos. One shot of espresso is approximately 30ml (1 fluid oz) so 2 double shots would come to about 120ml. Because of the added water content, you'll need to adjust the recipe so that you use 380ml of water with your sugar and setting agent.
French Press / Drip Coffee
French press also works for this recipe if you're using gelatin, but if you're using agar agar or kanten, you'll need to boil them together and this might ruin the taste of the coffee.
I don't recommend drip coffee as it isn't really strong enough to make a nice dessert.
Ways to Enjoy Coffee Jelly
Coffee Jelly is delicious and can be enjoyed in a number of different ways!
- Topped with whipped cream
- Drizzled with heavy cream
- Topped with ice cream
- Cut into small cubes and added to drinks (iced coffee, iced latte etc)
Tip: I love eating coffee jelly drizzled with a little bit of flavoured coffee syrup. Vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, any flavour you like. It really takes your coffee jelly to the next level and I've included it in the recipe as an optional ingredient.
It's best to keep your coffee jelly stored in the fridge and eat within 2-3 days.Print